Alex Faedo (10-1, 3.59 ERA) did not have his best stuff today, but had enough run support to earn his 10th win of the season. Vanderbilt must have watched a bunch of film on Faedo, considering that they tagged him for six runs on eight hits today. However, that did not stop the sophomore from throwing six innings, fanning nine Commodore hitters, and walking just one batter.
After 97 pitches, Faedo gave way to the bullpen with an 8-6 lead. Dane Dunning came in for the second straight game and this time the result was completely different. Working two perfect innings, Dunning struck out three of the six batters he faced.
After Dunning's bounce back performance, closer Shaun Anderson entered in the ninth to shut the door. After allowing a leadoff single, Anderson induced a double play ground ball before striking out Connor Kaiser to secure the series victory.
Offensively, the Gator lineup turned things around in a big way after being shut out yesterday. Plating 10 runs and banging out 13 base knocks as a team today, Florida's batting order featured four players with multiple hits!
The first three Gators in the lineup killed it today. Out of the leadoff spot, Dalton Guthrie had his best game of the series as he went 3-5 with an RBI and a run scored. Behind him in the two-hole, Jonathan India went 2-5 with an RBI and a run scored as well. Following India in the three-hole, JJ Schwarz put his hitless Game 2 behind him as he went 2-5 with an RBI and a pair of runs scored.
Moving down one spot to the five-hole, Deacon Liput had himself a game as he hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning. In addition to his third career long ball, Liput would finish the day 2-4 with three RBI's, two runs scored, a walk, and his 12th stolen base of the year.
Among some other notable offensive standouts with just one hit, Buddy Reed went 1-5 with a double while Nelson Maldonado also went 1-5 with an RBI, a run scored, and his third stolen base of the season. Ryan Larson also saw some substantial action today, as he started his first game since April 29th. He finished the contest 1-3 with an RBI and a run scored. He had one putout in the outfield.
The No.1 Florida Gators took care of business in their final home series of the regular season and still hold a one game lead over No. 8 South Carolina (38-13, 17-9 in SEC play) in the SEC East standings. As a whole, the Orange and Blue lead the SEC by 0.5 games with both No. 2 Texas A&M (39-11, 18-9 in SEC play) and No. 4 Mississippi State (37-14-1, 18-9 in SEC play) right on their heels.
Before previewing the final weekend series of the regular season against No. 13 LSU (36-16, 17-10 in SEC play), here are my final tidbits for the series clincher against Vandy:
- Florida finished the 2016 regular season with a 29-4 record at home.
- Despite getting roughed up today, Alex Faedo has now won his last four starts! He is also just one strikeout away from 100 on the season!
- Jason Delay was the only Vandy player with multiple hits in the game. He went 2-4 with a double and a run scored. Vandy's RBI leader was Bryan Reynolds, who went 1-4 with a three-run bomb in the top of the third inning.
- Florida's trio of Faedo, Dunning, and Anderson struck out 12 Commodores while walking just one. Conversely, Vandy was almost on par with Florida as the Commodore pitching staff fanned nine Gators and walked just two.
- One of Dalton Guthrie's hits should not have counted. In the bottom of the third, Guthrie hit a ball to the shortstop and was clearly out at first base. Yet somehow, the first base umpire missed the call and ruled Guthrie as safe! This sparked what would be a three-run rally for Florida.
- Every player in the Gator starting lineup had a hit except Mike Rivera, who went 0-2 with a walk.
- For anyone wondering about Peter Alonso, I found out yesterday that he will be out until regionals due to an injury in his left hand. I have him in my prayers for a speedy recovery!
Florida will end their season with a road trip down to hostile Alex Box Stadium as they take on the No. 13 LSU Tigers. It's a tough way to end the season, but I would expect nothing less from a high-caliber team like the Gators. This will also be the third weekend series for Florida that starts on a Thursday (as both the Arkansas and Georgia series followed this format).
The weekend rotation will be as it has been for most of the year, with Logan Shore (10-0, 2.29 ERA) throwing Thursday night, A.J. Puk (2-3, 2.88 ERA) throwing Friday night, and Alex Faedo throwing Saturday afternoon.
LSU will most likely counter with Alex Lange (7-3, 3.76 ERA) on Thursday night, and either Jared Poche' (6-4, 4.00 ERA) or John Valek III (6-2, 4.03 ERA) for the Friday and Saturday games.
All three games can be seen on ESPN's family of networks and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Radio Network.
As for Vandy, their loss today has eliminated them from SEC East contention. They will conclude their regular season at home as they face the Morehead State Eagles (30-22) on Tuesday and the Auburn Tigers (22-30, 8-19 in SEC play) in the weekend series. Like Florida, Vandy's final home weekend series will start on Thursday night and end on Saturday afternoon.
*All stats accredited to FloridaGators.com